This year’s International Museum Day (18th May), co-ordinated by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), will run with the theme “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion”. International Museum Day 2020 aims at becoming a rallying point to both celebrate the diversity of perspectives that make up the communities and personnel of museums, and champion tools for identifying and overcoming bias in what they display and the stories they tell.
The Gibraltar National Museum first celebrated the day with an Open Day in 2002. Since then, the open day has become a regular feature of the museum’s calendar, being held on the Saturday closest to the 18th May. The popularity of the Open Day in the local community exceeded all expectations and this year would have seen its nineteenth edition. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 outbreak, it will not be possible for the museum to hold this event in the usual manner but the good news is that there will be a Virtual Open Day!
This will take the form of intensified Virtual Museum activity on Monday 18th May. Since the Virtual Museum commenced eight weeks ago, on 17th March, there have been more than 130 thousand visits to its posts on Facebook. Of these, around 83 thousand (close to 64%) have actually been engagements with the posts. This is a remarkable statistic which reflects the growth of local interest in the museum, and in Gibraltar’s rich history and natural history, during lockdown. Since the start of the virtual museum, the museum’s following also increased dramatically by around 1,250 to a total of 5,155 on Tuesday 12th March; an estimated 77% of these are from Gibraltar.
Since the Virtual Museum started the museum team has managed to post 162 stories on Facebook and Twitter with 157 on Instagram. This is a remarkable three posts per day, including weekends and public holidays. The Virtual Museum Open Day will surpass these figures as the museum’s curators and support team plan to make the 18th May a day of intensified activity that will keep followers entertained throughout the day.
Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has announced the imminent re-opening of the museum. Given the huge success of the Virtual Museum, the decision has been taken to maintain activity of the Virtual Museum, albeit at a reduced scale, beyond lockdown. The Director of the Gibraltar National Museum, Professor Clive Finlayson, expressed his gratitude to the efforts of his team “We have a wonderful team of professionals who have rallied round to produce the wonderful creation that is our Virtual Museum. They have shown how much can be achieved in difficult circumstances and working at a distance, in some cases remotely, while effectively maximizing social distancing.” He added, “We are all most grateful to our followers, many of whom are Gibraltarians, who were our target audience, but also from abroad. Not only have they followed us, they have interacted with us and we have learnt from them too!”.
Minister for Heritage John Cortes commented, “It’s great to see how much the Museum has become part of the community as well a being so respected internationally. During the COVID crisis they have really stepped up to the mark. I urge everyone to pay them a virtual visit on Monday!”
Following the publication of Gibraltar’s strategy for unlocking, the Gibraltar National Museum is also pleased to inform that it will take bookings for visits to the museum as from Monday 18th May. Persons may book by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning 200 74289, between 10am and 6pm from Mondays to Fridays.